Steve McQueen Mesothelioma Case
Born on March 24th of 1930, Steve McQueen was a famous American movie actor. Nicknamed “The King of Cool” McQueen developed an “anti-hero” personality during the height of the Vietnam counterculture. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his leading role in the Film The Sand Pebbles. In addition to acting, McQueen was an avid racer of cars and motorcycles. McQueen is recognized for performing the majority of his own stunts.
In 1947, McQueen joined the United States Marines where he was quickly promoted to Private First Class and assigned to an armored battalion. McQueen was credited for saving the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic training session, pulling them from a ship before it plunged into the freezing waters. McQueen served in the military until 1950 when he was honorably discharged.
On November 7th of 1980 McQueen died at the age of 50 in Mexico. The actor and American hero died on an operating table where doctors were attempting to perform a curative mesothelioma surgery to reduce a number of malignant tumors in his pleural space, neck and abdomen.
McQueen’s first mesothelioma symptoms developed in 1978 in the form of a persistent and violent cough. The actor gave up smoking during this time and underwent a series of antibiotic treatments that ultimately augmented his problems. Shortness of breath presided itself in December of 1979 during the filming of The Hunter.
Shortly after filming ended, McQueen went to a doctor for a chest x-ray. After the image revealed several irregularities the former actor underwent a biopsy which revealed pleural mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. By the time the disease was discovered it had proliferated to several organs of McQueen’s body. By February of 1980 there was significant evidence of widespread metastasis.
Pleural mesothelioma in its advanced stages is incurable and inoperable. While he tried to keep his mesothelioma diagnosis a secret, several media outlets (most notably the National Enquirer) disclosed that he had a form of terminal cancer. In July of 1980, McQueen left the United States and traveled to Rosarito Beach to receive alternative mesothelioma treatment. Mcqueen’s path to the unconventional came after American doctors advised him that they could do nothing to save or even prolong his life.
Desperate for a cure, Mcqueen sought an extremely non-traditional mesothelioma treatment option that utilized coffee enemas, shampoos and cell injections from cows and sheep to treat the disease. The actor also received laetrile which was marketed as an anti-cancer drug in Mexico but was never approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
In Mexico, McQueen was treated by William Kelley, whose only medical certification—which was revoked—cam in the field of orthodontics. Kelly’s methods created an enormous buzz in the States, especially considering the “doctor” claimed McQueen would be completely cured of the terminal cancer and return to a normal lifestyle. However, the actor’s condition worsened and grapefruit-sized tumors developed in his chest. In October of 1980, the actor flew to Ciudad Juarez the have the five-pound tumors extracted from his chest. McQueen went to the Mexican city despite warning from American doctors that the tumors were too large to remove and that his heart would inevitably give out during the surgery. Driven, and blinded, by his will to live, McQueen checked into a Juarex clinic under the pseudo name “Sam Shepard” so doctors at the low-income hospital would be unaware of his true identity. McQueen died of cardiac arrest the day after the operation.
Shortly before McQueen died, he had given an interview in which he blamed his mesothelioma cancer on asbestos exposure. While the actor felt that asbestos used in movie soundstage insulation and race-driver’s protective gear could have been a factor, the action believed his cancer was a direct result of massive exposure during his time with the marines. McQueen believed the foundation for his cancer was built while removing asbestos pipes while aboard a tropp ship in the late 1940’s. McQueen was cremated and his ashes spread in the Pacific.